a Polish-born sculptor, was interested in classical forms and was also a pioneer collector of folk art. In 1926 he and his wife, Viola Flannery, established the first folk art museum in America: the Museum of Folk and Peasant Art (later the Museum of Folk Arts) at Alderbrook, their nine-teenth-century villa in Riverdale, New York. Nadelman lent objects from its collection to (among others) the Newark Museum, which used folk objects in its watershed exhibitions of 1930 and 1931.
Nadelman had emigrated to America (New York City) in 1914; for the next twenty years, according to his son, they collected some 70,000 European and American objects. They seem to have been inspired by the Bavarian national museum of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, by Viola Flannery's interest in antique textiles, and by the furnishings of a house they rented from the interior designer Henry Sleeper. Their museum collection spanned the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries and included paintings, fraktur, toys, dolls, quilts, samplers, rugs, dress, furniture, farm implements, boxes, weather-vanes, chalkware, wagons, and household objects.
Nadelman's own sculpture is representational but pared down and abstracted-a tendency consonant with folk idioms. His interest in theater, vaudeville, and the circus inspired him to create popular forms. Tango (c. 1918), The Orchestra Conductor (c. 1919), Seated Woman (c. 1917), Woman at the Piano (c. 1917), and Host (c. 1917) are all in wood; some are painted. Kirstein noted that Nadelman's techniques-carving in wood and then softening the effect by applying gesso to simulate flesh and clothing, and combining many pieces of wood joined with glue before carving-are similar to those of folk sculptors. Especially in his later years, Nadelman, like many vernacular artists, used everyday materials: plaster, papier-mâché, terracotta, and basic wood.
During World War II, Nadelman worked as an air warden and as a volunteer in occupational therapy at the Bronx Veterans' Hospital, where he provided materials for and expertise in sculpture and ceramics.
The Nadelmans lost their fortune when the stock market crashed in 1929, but their museum was helped by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation and by the formation of an advisory board that included the curator Holger Cahill. The museum, with the Index of American Design, sponsored by the Works Project Administration, a federal agency, employed artists to draw, paint, and photograph folk objects. Ultimately, though, the Nadelmans sold the bulk of their collection to the New-York Historical Society. Some individual objects went to private collectors and other institutions.
See also Holger Cahill; Edith Gregor Halpert.
was founded in 1975 by Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction as a museum and library of American history and popular culture. Originally known as the Museum of Our National Heritage, the institution changed its name in 2002. The National Heritage Museum is located in Lexington, Massachusetts, where it presents a wide range of changing exhibitions and educational programs relating to various aspects of the American experience, providing